Box office totals from three big pre-summer movies — "Iron Man 2," "Robin Hood" and "Shrek Forever After" — indicate that movie fans are more than ready for the deluge of films streaming to a theater near you. Will those expectations be fulfilled? What's the buzz on the "can't miss" and "maybe not" movies?
There are about 50 films opening in June. Whether escaping June gloom or finals, there's something for everyone. Bradley Cooper ("Hangover") and Liam Neeson are already promoting "The A-Team." While the redo of the popular '80s TV show about ex-special operatives includes some original elements, there's plenty of action to thrill newcomers as well.
"Shrek Forever After" just opened — it's animated and adorable. Best 3-D I've seen in years. The kids were jumping when things seemed to fly into the audience. The story is great for all ages, and anyone over 30 will be rocking to the fantastic musical score. This is the final big screen look at Shrek (Mike Myers). Sigh.
Don't head out to "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" on opening day, June 30, unless you plan to spend the night before on the sidewalk or have already bought tickets online. Tickets went on sale May 11 for the continuing saga of teen vampires and werewolves in love. Bella, Jacob and Edward are more mature now, and the love triangle is more intense. Expect to see some new characters that surely will show up in — you guessed it — next year's film.
From the trailers and TV appearances by stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, there's plenty of nonstop action, danger and comedy coming with the June 25 release of "Knight and Day." Cruise's character is a special agent protecting a scientist (Paul Dano). But is he really? Diaz was thrilled to do many of her own stunts. But she's no match for Cruise, who rides a motorcycle through the running of the bulls, jumps off buildings and boats, and blows things up. This looks like a winner for sure.
"Marmaduke" leaps from the comic strip to the big screen in this comedy about dogs. Owen Wilson and George Lopez star, and it's great family fare. The jury is still out whether the remake of "The Karate Kid" starring Jaden Smith (Will Smith's son) and Jackie Chan will resonate years later as has the original. Now taking place in China, it's also a new story with good intent about conquering your bullies.
Pixar animator Ricky Nierva assured me that "Toy Story 3" (11 years after "2") will be another Pixar "Best." Tom Hanks and Tim Allen star again in a story about what to do with the toys when the kids go off to college.
Having not seen all of these films yet, I did watch one I would avoid unless you're a fan of horror porn. "Splice" stars Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as scientists working with DNA experiments and who create a being that should not be. The idea is intriguing at first, then becomes laughable and finally disgusting when sexual interludes with beings negate the entire plot. I expected more from Oscar-winner Brody.
July brings 30 more new films. Top picks appear to be "Inception," "The Adjustment Bureau," "Predators," "The Last Airbender" and "Salt." Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page appear in "Inception," Christopher Nolan's dream-driven plot about thieves stealing dreams. In "The Adjustment Bureau," fan favorite Matt Damon mixes his political drama persona with a bit of romance with a ballet dancer (Emily Blunt). Forces try to keep the couple apart, but we know that will never happen.
"Predators," a redo with Alice Braga and Adrien Brody, will satisfy fans of the original. M. Night Shyamalan ("Sixth Sense") has been his own biggest fan about his last few misfires, but he's touting "The Last Airbender," adapted from the Nickelodeon animated show, as his best. Young kids use martial arts and special powers to battle evil. Angelina Jolie, a mega box-office asset, stars in "Salt" as a CIA officer who goes on the run to prove she's not a Russian spy.
August saunters in with another 30 films. The only possible standout I see is the female-targeted "Eat, Pray, Love," based on the best-selling book and starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem. Elizabeth (Roberts), reeling from a nasty divorce and leaving everything behind she thought was important, heads to Europe to find peace and serenity.
"The Wildest Dream," a documentary about deceased Mount Everest climber George Mallory, looks worthy. The rest of August seems status quo. Drew Barrymore gets raunchy in the romantic comedy "Going the Distance." Matt Damon pops up in "Takers," another thriller that seems too familiar.
Fans of 1980s superheroes may enjoy "The Expendables," starring some before and after stars — Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke — who say they still have what it takes. And if "Piranha" was not your thing, you'll probably want to pass on the R-rated "Piranha 3-D."
Happy summer viewing.